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Monday, September 20, 1999 Published at 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK

World: Europe

Raisa's life in pictures

Mrs Gorbachev revelled in her role as the Soviet Union's first-ever First Lady, adopting a much higher profile than any of her predecessors.

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With her stylish outfits and big smile, Raisa was an important part of Mikhail Gorbachev's wooing of the West.

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But it became clear that glamour apart , she wielded considerable influence on her husband's decision-making.

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As the Soviet Union's first "style ambassador", Mrs Gorbachev represented a one woman demonstration of "glasnost" and "perestroika".

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Her globe-trotting took her to meetings with many politicians; with those on the right, such as the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher ...

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... and those on the left, like Cuban President Fidel Castro.

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Raisa never really recovered from the August 1991 coup attempt; imprisonment with her husband and fear of death led to a stroke.

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